In a case of first impression, a Supreme Court judge in New York granted a motion to dismiss a claim against Jackson Walker client Dr. Mehmet Oz stemming from an episode of his highly-rated and award-winning Dr. Oz Show.
At issue was a home remedy for insomnia called the “knapsack heated rice footsie.” Dr. Oz suggested putting a little rice in the toe of a pair of socks and then putting them in the microwave to get the rice “warm, but not too hot.” The plaintiff alleged that he followed the instructions precisely but suffered third-degree burns. He sued, claiming negligence. The lawsuit received significant media coverage, including articles by the Associated Press, CNN, ABC News, and the Hollywood Reporter.
Dr. Oz responded that in order for there to be negligence, there must be a duty of care and that there is no physician-patient relationship between a television talk show host and the viewing audience. The court agreed, finding that “no direct or quasi physician-patient relationship” existed between Dr. Oz and the plaintiff. In the lengthy and well-written opinion, the court further found that such a cause of action would be unprecedented, not founded on New York law and, in any event, prohibited by the First Amendment.
Dr. Oz was represented by Jackson Walker partners Chip Babcock, Nancy Hamilton, and Crystal J. Parker. Jackson Walker’s national Media Law practice is one of the most prominent in the country, representing major clients in the television, radio, newspaper, magazine, and publishing sectors. The Firm’s First Amendment and Media Law practices were recently ranked among the best in the nation in the 2013-2014 U.S. News — Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings.